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Your Business

News/Business. A focus on issues facing small business in the United States. New.

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00:31:00

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mpeg2video

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ac3

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1920

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Us 4, Brooks 3, Roto 3, Ocean City 3, Eric 3, J.j. Ramberg 2, Sean Kenny 2, Linkedin 2, Greg 2, Maryland 2, Washington 2, Shatner 1, Greg Alexander 1, William Shatner 1, Gameifiction 1, Stephanie Trimper Lewis 1, Marty 1, Nelson Gutierrez 1, Christopher Trimper 1, Daniel Trimper 1,
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  MSNBC    Your Business    News/Business. A focus on issues facing  
   small business in the United States. New.  

    August 25, 2013
    4:30 - 5:01am PDT  

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an iconic boardwalk amusement park in ocean city, maryland. across the country, many of these have shut down. so how has this one been able to survive for more than a century? well, we'll tell you. that's coming up next on "your business." small businesses are
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revitalizing the economy. hi, everyone. i'm j.j. ramberg. welcome to "your business." every woek we gather together to talk entrepreneurship and give you tips, advice and a little inspiration to help your small business grow. for more than 100 years, the trimper family has run an amusement park on the board walk in ocean city, maryland. i went there to find out the trick to surviving through so many generations and running a decidedly old school business in today's modern world. for brooks and christopher
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trimper and their aunt stephanie trimper lewis, taking over it was as much destiny as it was choice. >> we don't really know any different. >> my grandfather called, wanted me to be involved in the family business. >> the company was founded in 1890 by daniel trimper who visit friday baltimore and then never left. >> many things here on the property, movie theaters, dance halls, amusements, arcades, mini golf. >> an amusement park, games, arcades and other attractions. as the ocean city boardwalk grew over the last century, so did the company. from here all the way to the end, this is all trimper? >> all the way to the inlet, the water. >> and its chairman is brooks tr trimper, the fifth generation to take the reins. the great great grandson. >> you are one of the youngest
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of the trimper dynasty here, and yet you're the one in charge. how did that happen? >> in the family business there's a lot of drama, politics. >> from the perspective of any thrill seeker looking to hop on to the freak out or someone looking to win a big stuffed animal at the horse race, it all looks easy. fun and games really. but to brooks and his family, running this business is anything but. the family drama is just the start. >> there's probably approximately 25 stockholders and those stockholders have children, spouses and things. so there's many people who have some sort of ownership of this place. >> ownership and different ideas of how things should be run. >> i have a will the of extended family who have needs and desires and want return on their investment, which is understandable. everyone does. being the core family that runs it, i feel my grandfather left us with that responsibility.
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that not only do we need to provide an amusement park for the people of ocean city, but we need to provide a return for our shareholders. >> a return that is increasingly tough to provide. tacks have gone up, the cost of maintaining the rides have increased. and prices? well, they can't go up too much. >> we can't pass -- like most businesses can pass their expenses on to the consumer. it's very hard here. because a parent can only afford so much, you know, for a child to ride a ride for three minutes. >> it used to be ten-cent skeeball and the public almost died when i had to switch it to a quarter. >> this place has history. it's hard to change almost anything. it took brooks and christopher an entire year to get their grandfather to start accepting credit cards. >> a lot of people are stuck in their ways. with 100 years, it doesn't matter if a new policy comes out. it's, well, this is how we did it for 88 years. >> small businesses are nimble.
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they can make decisions, act on them quickly. in this small business, you don't have that? >> no. we've been here so long and there's so many stockholders and so many chiefs and not enough ind indians. it make a decision, you need to make sure you speak to everybody. >> with a business that has so much nostalgia attached to it it's not only the shareholders they're beholden to, but the customers, who have been coming to generations. >> we take a ride out because it's past its time, no longer profitable, we get complaints. where are those boats? i used to ride those boats. my kids love those boats. >> they're committed to keeping it alive. and so they're working with their board to make the changes needed to have an old-school amusement business survive in this modern world. a clear example is the arcade. >> the biggest change is what prizes the kids want.
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now we've got video games with ipads and i touches. >> i can win an ipad or i touch in there? that is different from when i was a kid. >> the trimpers are dedicated to keeping this amusement park true to the park they all grew up with. >> i find it interesting that you were playing this and running this game since you were 8 years old, yet i'm beating you. >> you're not wing yet, but you keep asking me questions and distracting me. >> the land that your business is on is worth a lot of money, marty's play land, the amusement park, restaurants. is it ever tempted for to you sell it? >> i can't say people haven't thought about it. i would never trade out our heritage and this boardwalk.
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>> so even for a big pay out? >> not even for a big payout. i'm here for the long haul. roto rooter and its famous jingle have been household names since 1935. the company was built around the invention of the roto rooter machine, the first electric sewer cleaning device. from those humble beginnings, the company has grown into the largest provider of pluming repair and cleaning services in the u.s. how have they survived more than 75 years? ♪ call roto rooter that's the name and erase those troubles down the drain ♪ there's only two modes. growing or dying. growing is easy to see. sales are up. profits are up. often times when companies begin
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to what i call the slow death march, there's too much rationalization. there's too much, ah, it's just a couple of bad years. roto rooter is a bad example that something was conceived in 1935 and is still going strong in 2013. most brands don't last that long. where do brands get themselves in trouble? they go past prime. there's not much market share or growth left and instead of reinventing themselves, they just say let's work harder next year. let's trim some costs. unless you find a way to reinvent yourself, find new services or products, you're on a slow death march and in denial. you have employees counting on you not to do that. if you're past prime, own up to it and start making the right decisions because you either grow or you start dying.
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you've hit on a good idea. and the energy level is off the charts. we've got to slow down because if we outrun our headlights, if we roll something out too quickly, then the collateral damage -- if no one else is doing it, we probably have a little time to tweak and figure out what's working, what's not. and if we're entering a new business that others are already in, what's the rush? get it right. because if you outrun your headlights, it's dark out there. you might get off the road. or worse. it's important, i think, to understand the difference between leveraging your business and reinventing your business. leverage is simply how do i grow sales a little bit more with the
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products service package that i have today? how do i control expenses maybe a little better than i have historically? but leverage gives you more upside. reinvention, though, is exponential. that's where the big money s that's also where the losses could occur. there's no formula for this. everyone has to do that gut check and say do i have some level of risk tolerance? am i willing to take a portion of my profitability and leverage that into new businesses, product services that i'm presently not in? the time to reinvent is when it's going great, when you're winning, when you have the energy. it's the hardest time to reinvent because your employees don't want to jump on board. employees are saying, lighten up, boss. everything is great. you have to be the person who sees the trends developing before anyone else does.
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it's harder when you're doing well to get the support of the organization. if they trust that you have your interests and the company's interest at heart, muster up the resources to do it while you can afford to do it. when it comes to hiring, gone are the days of focusing only on resumes. today, smart businesses are also using social media tools like twitter to recruit as well as learn more about candidates. how tweets can successfully lead to your next hire. he is the president and ceo of a chicago-based professional staffing and recruiting firm. great to see you. >> good to see you, too, j.j. >> twitter can be used for so many things. it's interesting. both for recruiting people, but also doing research on them. let's dig right into this. if you want to use twitter, first you have to build a following? >> you have to. it's all about how many followers you have. when you post something on somebody else's twitter feed and how you can go viral with that.
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you have to be more than just 10, 15, 20 followers. it can't be something you use for your friends on a social basis or, you know, reuniting with college folks. if you really want to use twitter effectively, from a successful business standpoint, have you to get a lot of followers. >> are you using a special twitter handle for recruiting or your company's? >> that's the age-old problem we have with social media, a few years ago going back to facebook and people getting job offers rescinded because of crazy pictures. you have to decide what to use your twitter handle for. on the corporate side, hiring managers, human resources, leaders within a company that want to attract people, use it just professionally. you can do personal posts but make sure they're not too far out there in left field. on the flip side if you're a candidate looking for a job, realize that people are looking at you from all angles in the social media world and you need
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to be fairly tight. >> you mean your messaging about the jobs? >> across all things. if you're going to be concise and direct about what your company is doing, you want to use hash tags, number one, and rationalize back to something. a lot of people are afraid of twitter because it is still new. a lot of people i talk to at all levels of the spectrum who don't understand, if i put a hash tag in, what does that mean? >> what kind of hash tag? i'm a coffee shop and looking to hire -- j.j.'s coffee looking to hire a barista, #jobopen. >> #graduating from university of illinois, whatever your demographics are. >> know how to follow. if you are using twitter to hire people, what kind of people do you want to follow? >> it really depends on the business and where you want to
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go in to get people. at the end of the day you want to have your post be retweeted. sometimes you can think about it too much and get too analytical as to who you're following. you want to be followed by a lot of people and have them retweet your posts so it gets on to their network. it really is like that old commercial where it goes from four to eight to 16 to 32. it multiplies. >> looking to hire someone in the financial word, you might want somebody who has a lot of followers in that world. >> absolutely. it might also be somebody to follow you, j.j., if there's a lot of people in the business community following your posts and i write something and you retweet that, it's going to hit people in a different way. while you're in the business community, oskb obviously, not directly in financial services. >> pull in, don't push out. >> you don't want to be selective with what you're doing. twitter is one avenue for people to find other people and also to find jobs. you want to bring as many people as you can into your world and
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then have to screen out. you get too selective and only want to follow people working at banks, investment banks, private equity firms, or coffee shops, you're only going after college grads, you're limiting yourself. it is a numbers game. >> tom, thank you. i know hiring -- i talk to small business owners across the board. one of the top three things they say they're having trouble with in spite of the hire iing -- we have more information and advice to help your small business grow. we'll answer your questions about building a sales force and then keeping them motivated. sean kenny loved legos. he turned his hobby into what's becoming a booming business. is like hammering.
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riding against the wind. uphill. every day. we make money on saddles and tubes. but not on bikes. my margins are thinner than these tires. anything that gives me some breathing room makes a difference. membership helps make the most of your cashflow. i'm nelson gutierrez of strictly bicycles and my money works as hard as i do. this is what membership is. this is what membership does. sean kenny loved to play with lego blocks. he would spend hours making sculptures out of them. now it's become a booming business. his work has been bought by major corporations, exhibited around the world. lego lamps can be bought on sites like fab.com.
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here is how sean turned his play into profits. you could say sean kenny has a unique business. >> i did a project for the philadelphia zoo. we built 30 life-sized animals that are set up all around the zoo. the polar bear took 1,100 hours to build. it had over 95,000 pieces in it. >> a lego certified professional. that's right. he actually has an official certification to play with lego blocks. >> the wall you're looking at right now is probably about 300,000 pieces. although it's only a small portion of the 1.5 million that i have here in the studio. >> across the east river from manhattan, sean has built a thriving company out of a childhood passion. this wasn't his first profession. for years he worked in technology in the financial sector. while satisfying his hobby outside the office. >> i would take pictures of my creations and put them up
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online. a lot of people actually play with lego toys as an adult for a hobby and i was one of them. >> helped him build a reputation and the right people started taking notice. >> i got an e-mail from the lego company. we're coming to new york city, going to be doing this big gallery show and media event. we would like you to come along and bring this model and that thing and the other thing that you made. >> he workd with lego to formalize their relationship. >> so we said let's come up with a way that they can support what i do. it eventually became what's now known as the lego certified professionals. >> he works independently from lego but partners with the company on special events. the connection was a great way for him to get his work in front of people and also legitimize a business. >> this is a real thing.
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>> despite doing almost no traditional marketing he has landed commissions for individual clients, and a variety of other quirky jobs. >> i was contacted by the staff at 30 rock because tina fey had written in an episode of her show where they had to assemble a lego train as part of a training seminar or something like that in executive congress. >> on top goes the smokestack. >> then they realized they needed one for a prop. a gallery was putting together an exhibit all about william shatner. i call this plastic shatner. >> a great deal of flexibility. >> operating like an independent artist, you never necessarily know who will come and ask you to do things. i've developed sort of static revenue streams for things such as my books so that i know i can structure the rest of my business around other things. >> looking back, he doesn't point to a single tipping point
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but rather a steady buildup, similar to the way one of his creations comes toth. >> a lot of businesses are about grow, grow, grow. is the last quarter better than the quarter before that? i'm really happy knowing that b successful, make enough money to raise a family and live in this expensive city i live in, i'll be really happy. it's time now to answer some of your business questions. let's turn to our board of directors for their expertise. eric is the founder and ceo of retro fitness, also launched a second company called let's yo yogurt. greg alexander is the ceo of sales business index, helps executives understand how well their sales forces are performing. the first question -- great to see both of you guys -- is about selling your brand. >> i would be curious if there are any recommendations on how to build an enterprise sales force, internally and externally? >> greg, this is sort of made
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for you. so, how do you build your sales force? >> i would start with understanding how the customer makes a decision, and touch point along the way, deal level and account level. working backwards from that i would understand how to seb the customer at those critical moments, determine the salesperson i need, determine whether or not the contact needs to be virtual contact or face-to-face contact. determine a workload capacity, how often i need to call on that person, determining how many salespeople i need. determining the type of tools i need to meet those particular customer needs. >> it's hard. i've hired salespeople before. i do not have a background in sales. i'll be honest, i did not a great job hiring the person and then not giving them the tools they needed to be successful. it's hard to find people as passionate as you are about what you do. eric, how do you get the right
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fit? >> i think that's going to be critical. sales is not always the product, it's the person. they're not buying the product, they're hiringing you. when you hire a salesperson you're interviewing, in my assessment, quality, skills, and enthusiasm for your product. when they're presenting to a potential customer, they're going to be buying that person's personality and how they present your product. >> how do you find that person? >> it's a needle in a haystack. we talk about mining for diamond all the time. have you to sift through a lot of coal to get to the diamond, no doubt about it. in our retro fitness, and we talk about selling franchises rather than gym memberships. it's always that personality, they have to have that passion, that ability to want to work and put their enthusiasm around the cro clock into your business. >> i'm glad someone asked this question because i'm going out to california to deal with this
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thing. this is the next question, how to expand your network. >> how is the best way to cold reach out to clients through contacts you may not have and find people at companies that you would want to reach out to? >> this is hard. cold calls are some of the hardest things to do. eric, is there a good way to get in there when you don't have a preexisting relationship? >> what people do to me is something like linkedin, on social media. it's hard to get me on my phone in my office, 92 people, my assistant and then me. you get me to linkedin, you get me direct. i'm screening that. i think now it's being creative how you get to the decision-maker. >> this is a question about keeping your all-important sales staff motivated. >> i'd ask for tips on their strategies where they've grown from a small startup like five people to a large company with a
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long sales cycle. >> the way to keep a sales rep engaged during a long sales cycle is a technique called sales gameifiction. assign points, assign badges, bronze, silver, gold rep. make a game of it. >> that's a good idea. >> also you have the timing effect. maybe one's coming in and closing from six months ago. but until you get to the point where they have that built-up pipeline. keeping them motivated is all about them understanding what the end goal is, what the end result is. and there is, like greg said, along the way there's some merits along the way. hey, we got a financial packet in or little steps along the way you can reward. this is great. what's next? we need to come in for a discovery day to meet the team. once those things happen, there are some positive things along
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the way that you can reward. maybe not financial compensation but like greg was saying, a merit badge or encouragement tool or, hey, we got this far, let's celebrate over x, y, z. >> greg, how do you figure out the right balance between commission and salary. >> depends on the economics of your sale, of course. if you're selling a big-ticket item with high gross margin, can you afford the salary. but if you're in a transactio transactionsal sale, small dollar amount, gross margin might be tighter, then you want to keep your costs variable and go with more commissions. >> let's say you're giving higher commissions. a lot of these salespeople, they're selling a lot of products. how do you keep them excited about your product? >> in our environment, again, it is -- i love a salesperson that sits across from me that says, pay me commission, i don't want a salary. i know that's a go-getter. you got to love that guy or gal. for us, it's the enthusiasm.
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your carrot has to be the biggest carrot hanging out there if you have external salespeople working for you. if you use some kind of independent contracting sales tools. everything is internal in our sales organizations but we do know there are some companies that use these floating devices that are out there. i'm not a big fan of those. i like my team to be internal. if you're out this, you better have the biggest carrot out there. >> thank you so much for coming on. i think hiring a sales team is so incredibly important. and really tricky. and tricky how to keep them motivated. appreciate your insight on all of this. if you have a question for our experts, all have you to do is go to our website. the address is openforum.com/yourbusiness. once you get there, hit the ask the show link to submit a question for our panel. again, that website is openforum.com/yourbusiness. or you can e-mail us your question or comments. that address is yourbusiness@msnbc.com. in today's technology-driven
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mobile world, snagging more customers doesn't have to be tedious or expensive. five simple ways to find more online leads and customers courtesy of yfs magazine. one, webinars. they're a great low-risk, low-cost way to share valuable information with potential customers and build your e-mail subscriber database quickly. two, pay per click ads. as customers use different search engines, these advertisements can help you strategically bring your target audience to your website. three, content marketing. info graphics, how-to guides and blogs are ways you can post useful material on social media platforms and customer forums. this helps more customers learn about you and helps build back links to bring even more traffic to your site. four, mobile optimization. it's estimated nearly 35 % of all web traffic comes from a mobile device, so make sure you have an accessible,
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mobile-friendly version of your company website. five, public relations. news-worthy pr announcements can help with generating media coverage and keeping your website higher within search engines. looking to get your business information and offerings in front of more customers? check out our, site of the week. locu.com uses an empty dashboard to manage your price lists and services from one place. you can automatically update your website on multiple sites like yelp and trip adviser. they promote on social media sites like foursquaur and trip adviser. thank you for joining me today. i hope you learned a thing or o two. go to openforum.com/yourbusiness. we also put up some web-exclusive content with more information to help your business grow. we're on twitter as we
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well @msnbcyourbiz. be a fan of the show on facebook. next time, americans and their concerns about safety have spawned the prepper movement. entrepreneurers have moved in to serve that constituency. >> our demographic is people who want to be able to be comfortable and survive if there's an emergency. >> how fear of the unknown and the need to get control is driving the profits of small businesses kairting to su survivalists. i'm j.j. ramberg. remember, we make your business our business. ♪ i'm a hard, hard worker every day. ♪ ♪ i'm a hard, hard worker and i'm working every day. ♪ ♪ i'm a hard, hard worker and i'm saving all my pay. ♪ small businesses get up earlier and stay later. and to help all that hard work pay off,
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membership brings out millions of us on small business saturday and every day to make shopping small huge. this is what membership is. this is what membership does. remembering the march on washington with those who lived it. yesterday tens of thousands of americans converged on the nation's capital to commemorate the 50 th anniversary of the 1963 march on washington. it was a historic event that spurred the enactment of the civil rights and voting rights act and one that is now remembered as one of the moral high points of american history. but that is not what political leaders, major media outlets and millions of everyday americans were expecting right up until that march began in 1963.